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Older Person MHFA

OMHFA

Course under development

Good mental health is an important factor in facilitating senior Australians to live full, active and healthy lives. MHFA Australia is developing a 12-hour face-to-face Older Person Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Course for families and carers assisting people aged 65+. In older age, mental illnesses can particularly occur in association with physical illnesses, loss of independence, bereavement and brain changes that occur with ageing. Unfortunately, Australian males aged 80+ are one of the highest risk groups for suicide. Confusion and dementia are much more common in older people, but they are not a normal part of ageing. The percentage of people affected by dementia rises with age. It affects 3% of people aged 65-74 years, 10% of those 75-84 years, and 30% of those aged 85 or over.

However, mental health problems are under-diagnosed and under-treated in this population, often misattributed to ageing or poor physical health. Stigma and poor mental health literacy in family and carers of older Australians are likely to contribute to the lack of supportive interactions, diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems.

The aim of our Older Person MHFA Course is to train the community to respond appropriately as early as possible to older people with mental health problems, rather than wait for a mental health crisis before taking action.

MHFA Australia has undertaken a Delphi study to develop guidelines for how family and carers can help a confused older person.